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Coronavirus: Starbucks halts reusable cup use

Starbucks estimates that 42 million disposable cups were not used in 2018 and hopes to double that number by 2022. Credit: Engin_Akyurt from Pixabay

American coffee giant Starbucks has announced that it will be “pausing” the use of personal reusable cups throughout Europe as a precautionary measure against the spread of coronavirus.

Customers will instead be given a single-use cup, however, but discounts for those trying to use a reusable one will still be applied. The company will also suspend its 5p (UK) and 5 cent (Germany) charges for paper cups, as the decision prevents customers from opting for reusables.

“We are actively monitoring the situation and taking precautionary measures to ensure the ongoing wellbeing of our partners (employees) and customers,” a Starbucks spokesperson explained to The Brussels Times.

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“Out an abundance of caution, we are pausing the use of personal cups or tumblers in our stores across Europe, the Middle East and Africa,” she added. This move has also been applied to Starbucks’ stores in the U.S. and Canada.

Robert Lynch, vice president, Retail, Starbucks Europe, the Middle East and Africa provided further details on prevention measures in an open letter to shareholders sent on Thursday.

“We are introducing increased cleaning measures for stores as well as for all “for here” ware (ceramic mugs, plates, etc.). We have provided guidance to our licensed operators on how to report and support anyone that may express they’ve been impacted by the virus, including store closure processes,” he explained.

While there is currently no timeframe for when these measures will last until, Starbucks “will be adapting our approach and procedures in ways that best support our partners and customers in our stores,” Lynch added.

The global company has also restricted all business-related air travel, domestic and international, until 31 March.

Starbucks Sees Reusable Success

In 2018, 1.3% of customers in the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Africa were served their drinks in their own cups, according to the group’s annual report.

Starbucks estimates that 42 million disposable cups were not used in 2018 and hopes to double that number by 2022.

The U.S. coffee chain regularly highlights its efforts to recycle, reduce waste and carbon footprints, as well as responsible purchasing of its teas and coffees.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times